No standing policy
STANDING on the aisles of passenger buses when the vehicle is full is common prac tice in the current public transport setup. In some buses, having passengers standing on the aisles is even part of the vehicles’ design. Thus, hand grips are provided for those passengers who prefer to board the bus even if the vehicle is full.
This is true mainly for bigger vehicles. Passenger utility jeepneys (PUJs) are smaller and the distance from the floor to the roof is lower, which does not allow standing on the aisle. Passengers who insist on riding even if PUJs are full thus end up holding onto the grab bar while standing on the steps of the jeepney’s rear door.
The more enterprising PUJ drivers introduced years ago the wooden stool that they placed on the aisle for the excess passengers to sit on. Sometimes, the stools could accommodate two passengers sitting back-to-back while holding on to the grab bar. Two stools would mean four extra passengers, plus those standing on the steps of the rear door (two at most).
For jeepneys following the mountain routes, passengers can even be seen sitting on the roof of the vehicle, a very dangerous situation considering the inclines and the roughness of the roads they traverse. The roof is also where the cargoes are placed.
That overloading is bad is obvious. It’s not only about the discomfort but also the danger the practice poses on passengers. A vehicle designed to carry only 30 passengers but loaded with 60 is difficult to steer and control and is thus accident-prone. Passengers sitting on the roof could fall, and those standing on the aisle of buses could lose control of their hold on the hand grips during sudden turns or when they are tired or sleepy.
Disallowing standing on the aisles of buses plying routes more than 15 kilometers is therefore a good move, although one wonders if this is well studied and could be implemented fully. It does not go into the root of the problem of overloading, which is the lack of public transportation in most routes.
Unless that is addressed fully, the move will end up being like a cat-and-mouse game between the drivers of public utility vehicles and the commuters on one side and the implementing government agencies on the other.